Self Care

When I was younger I had a very low self-esteem.  I mean I absolutely hated how I looked, and at such a young age.  I was teased at school for being dark skinned, with big bushy eye brows, and “nappy” coarse hair. My mom always reassured me that I wself careas beautiful both inside and out, but that was hard to believe when I was being picked on every day. In high school my esteem had a little boost. I started getting attention from boys, I was on the cheerleading team, and I even lost weight. I felt like I was on top of the world. Now, 11 years later, I see myself starting to have those thoughts I once had as a young girl. I need to get myself to a better place, a place where I am happy and I don’t think about whether or not one of my fat rolls are popping out of the bottom of my shirt. This is why I decided to talk about the importance of self-care.

Lately, getting up in the morning and looking in the mirror has been tough. I am facing something I’ve never had to face before. I don’t like my body anymore. I weigh 50 pounds more than what I am comfortable with and I feel like a lard of fat. People always tell me I’m not fat or I’m I don’t look like I weigh 238 pounds but that doesn’t help me stop feeling the way that I do. I need to get back to my happy place. I’ve always told myself if I don’t like something then I need to change it. Although, I have been trying for years now to lose weight I will not give up or quit. I will stop having negative thoughts about myself and start loving myself again both inside and out. I will start to take care of myself. Caring for me is not self-indulgent, but it is a necessity to survive.

I am now making it a priority to always practice self-care so that I never lose my drive to help and inspire others. These are the 9 self-care essentials I use to add to my life because I want it to be better. Life in itself is stressful and it can easily tear people down. I now know what I tell myself everyday will either lift me up or tear me down. I promise myself to continue loving myself and to never give up on my pursuit to being a healthier happier me. You should to.

Advertisements

Rape Survivors in Lousiana Literally Pay the Price for Being Raped

bills

Of the 50 great states of America, 15 of them pay for tests for STIs and medication prescribed in the course of a forensic exam and only 13 pay for pregnancy tests. There are only 10 states that cover the cost of emergency room fees for sexual assault victims and the number of states that cover the cost of treating injuries sustained during a sexual assault is a mere five. Lucky for Iowa residents, all expenses are paid for when it comes to getting a rape kit.  In Iowa the sexual assault evidence exam and follow-up treatment are free. You should not receive a bill. This is true even if you decide not to report the crime to the police. Unfortunately, it isn’t this simple for some outside of Iowa, for example some rape victims in Louisiana have to pay the price for the assault.

Rape victims could end up paying medical bills as high as $4,200 to have standard procedures such as SANE screenings, pregnancy and HIV test done. After doing some research I found that prisoners in Angola State Penitentiary get free medical treatment. That’s a major slap in the face for rape victims who look to authorities for help in their time of need not expecting to be billed like there’s no tomorrow. If victims apply for reimbursement through the Louisiana Crime Victims Reparations Board some of their expenses could be paid back, but that isn’t always guaranteed. In order for victims to successfully be reimbursed for the medical expenses they have to meet the following conditions: victims must file charges against their rapist and cannot have an existing criminal records, here’s the kicker, victims can’t have been involved in any illegal activity at the time of the rape. It’s like the rape survivors are being punished for something that was totally out of their control. The impact of these practices could be seriously damaging to the number of rapist who are brought to justice, which is already a low number as is. Rape survivors are least likely to seek medical treatment out of fear of being slammed with a ton of medical bills. Louisiana should take a look at Iowa’s Coalition Against Sexual Assault or IowaCASA for short webpage  to learn how to treat and help a survivor of rape instead of making their situation much worse.

IowaCASA has a very detailed FAQ page for victims, advocates, and whoever is interested in educating themselves on the resources available to sexual assault victims. There’s a ton of information on the page like who to contact if sexually assaulted, the types of protective orders available to victims, how to report an assault and a step by step guide of what happens after reporting a rape. Advocates from sexual assault crisis centers are available all over Iowa, it is your right to ask for what if you want one. No survivor should have to be penalized for the wrong doing of someone else and I’m glad to say I live in a state that agrees.

Victim Blaming

I have never been raped. I didn’t know that I was sexually assaulted until my freshman year of college when I learned what the true definition of sexual assault was and all the different forms that it can take. Then I learned about victim blaming and its dangers. I’m ashamed to say that I too used to blame some victims when it came to rape depending on the situation, because I was young and naive. I like many others, hoped on the victim blaming band-wagon. I used to say things like, “she shouldn’t have gotten so drunk” “why would she go to a bedroom with a guy alone anyways?” or “she shouldn’t have led him on.” Just looking back on it now it sounds so dumb, but back then it made sense to me because it was all I knew. Me being able to admit that I was wrong for victim blaming shows how much I’ve matured and have grown and I would like to apologize to all sexual survivors who had to fight alone. Who had to deal with people like me that didn’t stand up for them, but instead made them feel like their rape was their fault. My apologies. I now stand up for victims when I hear my friends or peers when I hear them victim blaming. They like me weren’t taught what victim blaming is and how it affects future rape culture, victims/survivors, and their abusers. My mom taught me how not to get raped because that was all she knew how to do. She too is a survivor of sexual assault. Unfortunately, that’s still how a lot of young women are being taught. In order to change the mind frames of this rape culture we need to learn and teach others not to rape, not how not to be raped.

Victim blaming places rape survivors in danger of feeling alone, isolated, and helpless. Victim blaming disregards the victim/survivor making them more reluctant to come forward and report the assault inflicted upon their body. Victim-blaming also condones the abusers behavior. Making it easier for them to rape again and hurt another individual because they now feel like they are unstoppable. Rape is never the victims fault nor is it their responsibility to fix the situation. Rape is the abusers choice. Mist people who blame the victim do so by distancing themselves from the victim. By giving the victim a label they are able to justify the distinct difference between themselves and the victim. By doing this they are able to reassure themselves that an incident like this could never happen to them. Most people who participate in victim blaming say things like, “I don’t do things like that, so that couldn’t happen to me.” That’s wrong. Anyone can be raped. No matter if you’re a child or an old, young or old, man or woman. When a rapist picks their target there are many factors that could play on the decision and none of these factors are ever the victims fault. Never. Abuse is a choice that is made by the abuser alone. Abusers have options to choose from in response to their partner’s actions like walking away.

I know it may be hard to take a stand against victim blaming, but if you are holding a conversation with someone who is mature then it shouldn’t be too difficult. Here are some things you can do to help put an end to victim blaming

  • Challenge victim blaming statements when you hear them
  • Do not agree with the abusers excuses for their actions
  • Always always always reassure the survivor that it’s not their fault
  • Provide victims/survivors with support and resources, let them make their own decisions and try not to be to forceful, they’ve had enough of being told what to do
  • Hold the abuser accountable

For all those people who speak fluent sarcasm, check out this sarcastic video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hC0Ng_ajpY

Bystander Effect

bystander-effect

Bystander Effect refers to the phenomenon in which the greater number of people present the less likely people are to help a person in distress. Researchers Bibb Latane and John Darley found that the amount of time it takes a person to take action or get help solely depends on the number of witnesses in the area. A very famous case of bystander effect happened on late Friday night in March of 1964. Catherine Kitty Genovese was stabbed and killed in front of her apartment building while walking home from work.  Of the dozen or so people in the nearby apartment building who heard her cries for help only one called the police 30 minutes after the incident occurred. One factor that plays into bystander effect is the diffusion of responsibility when in large crows. Since there are other individuals present there isn’t as much pressure to be the one to take action, which wouldn’t be the case if there were fewer people present. Second factor is the need to feel as if your actions would be or are socially accepted. If no one else standing around is taking actions to help, then you may feel like a response isn’t needed or acceptable.

There is a way to overcome the bystander effect. First, if you see something say something it’s as simple as that. You don’t have to necessarily say something to the attacker if you aren’t comfortable with that, but you could call the police. If you and some friends notice something fishy going on say it out loud, “did you see that guy follow that girl into that dark alley? Something seems sketchy about that.” This way you have some support, and who knows, your friend may have been thinking the same thing. Challenge sexist opinions and speak up for what is right. Make it known that the actions that you are witnessing are unacceptable. Second, give direct orders. Sometimes people can be in shock or fear that they don’t what to do so they just stand there. The best way to break them out of the shock is to give specific instructions. Some examples of giving orders are, “You in the red shirt dial 911 now, you in the hat come and help me.” In times of an emergency don’t be afraid to use your bossy side, it could save a life. Bystander prevention isn’t about being the hero, putting yourself at risk, or saving the damsel in distress. It means that we all have the power to put an end to sexual assault, rape, domestic violence and harms of the world. What are some ways you’ve helped in the fight against sexual assault? Have you ever been subject to bystander effect?

Now that’s F*cked Up

misogyny

I’ve always wondered how anyone could get away with some of the things they say on social media websites. Try going under any controversial story, picture or video and I bet you will find something offensive. Although there are tons of offensive images, comments etc. on Facebook I am going to focus on the hateful offensive images of women. There’s a Facebook group called “Men are better than Women” and on this page there was an image of a woman who appeared to be tied to some concrete object, bloody and beaten. An Icelandic woman named Thorlaug Agustsdottir (http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/10/the-unsafety-net-how-social-media-turned-against-women/381261/) wrote a response post about the page which resulted in her being harassed and threatened by members of the group. An image of Thorlaug was altered so that her face appeared to be bloody and beaten was posted on the Facebook page. She reported the image and the site to Facebook asking it to be removed.  It wasn’t until Thorlaug contacted her local press to report Facebook’s response, or lack thereof, and 50 other users reported the image that they finally decided to remove the image.

Facebook’s initial response to Thorlaug’s report was, “We reviewed the photo you reported,” came Facebook’s auto reply, “but found it does not violate Facebook’s Community Standards (https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards) on hate speech, which includes posts or photos that attack a person based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or medical condition.” The comments under the altered picture of Thorlaug include, “you just need to be raped” and “women are like grass, they need to be beaten/ cut regularly,” but Facebook says this doesn’t violate their standards. They then went ahead and labeled the pages content as controversial humor, but I don’t see anything funny about this whole situation.

Now after all this talk about community standards and all, Facebook and YouTube just recently removed a video due to too much controversy. The video is called, F-Bomb for Feminisim: Potty Mouthed Princess use Bad Word for a Good Cause (http://fckh8.myshopify.com/). Each of the princess costume girls address pay inequality, gender expectations and sexual assault with an unexpected twist. The clip features cursing abundantly (“Fuck that sexist shit!”) about the pay gap, rape and violence against women. After watching the video would you say it was against any of the standards that Facebook stands so strongly by? I don’t think so, but it was removed because of the controversy against kids dropping the f bomb, even though it got people’s attention and it was a for a good cause. The whole craze over this video and girls using the F bomb makes a good point. Society is more offended by a couple of girls saying fuck than they are by the fact that 1 out 5 women are sexually assaulted and raped.

Reaction to Catcalling Viral Video

catcalling

“There is nothing more than a woman loves to hear than how pretty she is.” This was said by a man on television in 2014. I kid you not.

Earlier this week a video of a woman (http://nypost.com/2014/10/31/a-catcall-crisis-thats-a-hoot/) in New York City enduring hours of catcalling went viral. The video, organized by anti- street harassment organization Hollaback (http://www.ihollaback.org/share/), received tons of congratulatory praise, but it also left a few others feeling a little bothered.  One bothered individual being Steve Santagati, an author and self- proclaimed dating expert, who appeared on CNNs segment http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/02/cnn-catcalling-video-steve-santagati_n_6090534.html) hosted by Fredericka Whitfield discussing the viral video. If this blatant misogynistic rant is even a little glimpse of what his writing and dating expertise is like then he may need to find a new career after this.

“It’s just another example of a lot of feminists that have an a la carte attitude towards it, meaning you can do this, I want this sort of thing, but they take it too far,” he said. “It’s kind of like, this thing bordered on ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf,’ like where’s it going to go next?”

He then went on to say that if women were really fed up with men and their cat calling they should, “act like a strong woman,” and tell them to beat it.

Amanda Seales, a New York based comedian, was also on the CNN segment and was just ask shocked by Santagati’s comments as I was. She had a few things to say in response to Santagati’s rant. I am pleased to say that her responses to his comments were very intellectual and what a lot of men who think like Santagati need to hear. Seales brought up the murder of Mary Spears, (http://www.iowacasa.org/#!When-Women-Refuse/c34d/D47C75DA-D27D-4697-8673-AC1CFBDA8236) a victim of cat calling, to prove to Santagati that telling men to back off is easier said than done. She then made it her business to let him know that he, in fact, did not know what he was talking about.

What bothered me the most from watching this video is Santagati. It seemed like every time he opened his mouth he just made his credibility worse. I wonder how many men out there actually think the way this guy does, I’m sure there are tons. Santagati is the perfect example of how male dominance muffles the shouts of women’s equalities demands for men and women. Who is he to say that all women want are compliments from men? I’m not sure about you but when I’m walking down the street I’m more focused on not tripping and falling on my face than how many guys I can get to shout sexist remarks my way. It’s good to see Hollaback has shed some light on the problems of catcalling, and now with Santagati proving our point hopefully this movement will grow and become stronger than ever before. #leavecatcallingtothecats

When Women Refuse

attack
When Women Refuse is a tumblr that was created in response to the Santa Barbara shootings earlier this year, but is still active today. It’s a blog that archives stories of violence that occurs when women reject sexual advances from men. And there’s another story to add as an entry that happened just this past weekend.
A 27- year-old woman named Mary was shot and killed last weekend when she rejected a man’s advances inside a hall on Detroit’s East side. The man asked for her name and number, and she told him that she was engaged and declined. What happens next is horrifying. After harassing her for the rest of the night he was escorted out of the building by security. When the woman and her friends were leaving the hall the man grabbed and hit her. When her fiancée tried to jump in to defend Spears the man pulled out a gun, resulting in a two fatal shot to Spears’ head and five others being injured. Now a young mother of three is dead because of a man believing he was entitled to a woman’s attention.
While reading news articles and reviews on the story I couldn’t help but think that this could’ve easily been me on multiple occasions. I can think of plenty of times a man has asked for my number and I declined. I’ve lied and said that I had a boyfriend and I’ve even given out a fake phone number or two to avoid any altercations. The fake phone number trick doesn’t even work anymore. Now instead of just taking the phone number and going on with his day the guy will pull out his phone and call the number just to test and make sure it’s the right number. Is it really that necessary? It’s a shame that women have to go through such extreme measures just to get out of an unwanted interaction. This past August while attending a Notting Hill Carnival in the UK a woman was punched in the face because she told a guy to stop groping her . Some people actually said she should have walked away and ignored him. But this is her body, she can’t tell someone to leave her alone without being assaulted?  Some men say, “Why not just say you don’t want to talk to me then?” I have an easy answer to that: Because we are scared. We’re scared of what you can do to us.
Street harassment is serious. It’s not a compliment. The story above is every woman’s nightmare. Street harassment instills fear in women: fear of not knowing how a man will react to being rejected. Every woman gets a little nervous when a guy approaches them, including me. In the back of our minds we’re wondering if he’s going to be offended if he gets rejected. So many thoughts are going through my mind when a guy calls out to get my attention. Should I ignore him and keep walking? Should I just politely reject his offer and hope and wish that he doesn’t get violent? It’s difficult to even walk past a group of guys because I am too worried about being catcalled and what might happen next. I used to have no problem with speaking up for myself when I needed to, but I’m learning that there is a lot to be afraid of.
Want to get involved in making our streets safer? Go to http://www.desmoines.ihollaback.org/

There are so many things that run through my mind on a daily basis. This blog is where I document these crazy thoughts.